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Our Beliefs

History and Beliefs of the Presbyterian Church (USA), including Mount Zion Presbyterian Church

Being Presbyterian refers to a theological heritage started by Martin Luther and refined by John Calvin.

The roots of the Presbyterian Church go all the way back to Protestant Reformation, led by Martin Luther. In 1517, Martin Luther nailed 95 “theses” or questions for discussion on the church door (the town bulletin board) of his town in Wittenburg, Germany. Because of the recent invention of the printing press, within two weeks Luther’s disagreements with existing church doctrine were circulating all over Europe. The Protestant Reformation had begun.

The new reforms within the church soon attracted a bright young student in France, named John Calvin. Calvin, a lawyer by trade, wrote a brilliant articulation of this “reformed” faith, at age 29. He called it, The Institutes of the Christian Religion. People now refer to it as Calvin’s Institutes. His work attracted great attention because of its insight, depth, and clarity. Calvin eventually would settle in the town of Geneva, Switzerland and become an important figure in the new reformation of the church. The Presbyterian Church today finds it theological roots in the writings of John Calvin.

The first Presbyterian Church was organized in America in the early 1700’s in Philadelphia. Just preceding the Civil War, the church broke into two separate denominations, which reunited in 1983. Our denomination’s official name is the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A). This is the “mainline” Presbyterian denomination a body of 2.6 million believers in 11,000 congregations.

Martin Luther thought the greatest danger to the Christian’s life was legalism. John Calvin believed the greatest danger was idolatry, the pursuit of, longing for, and trust in things and persons in place of God.

Our Form of Church Government

The word “Presbyterian” comes from the Bible, from the Greek word for “elder.” The Presbyterian denomination takes its name from its form of church government, which is to be governed by elders. There are various types of church government, such as “hierarchical” – the Roman Catholic, Episcopal and Methodist churches; “congregational” – Baptist and Congregational churches; and “representative” – Presbyterian Churches. The Presbyterian Church is a representative form of church government in which the congregation elects church officers to lead the congregation. The Presbyterian Church is representative at ever level – Congregations elect elders to serve on the Session, Sessions elect commissioners to go to Presbytery meetings, and Presbyteries elect commissioners to go to Synod and General Assembly meetings. Our nation’s government was patterned after the Presbyterian representative model. Elders in the Presbyterian Church seek to discern the will of God for a congregation and vote their conscience before God. Our congregation has three classes of elders serving on a rotating basis. Congregational elections for new elders are held annually, generally early in the year. All members of the congregation are entitled to vote on the electing of their officers.

What Presbyterians Believe

Presbyterians Are:

  • Protestant. We come from the protestant Reformation that began in the 1500’s with the theological thought of Martin Luther and John Calvin.
  • Reformed and always reforming. We try to always reform our life and practice, both individually and corporately, according to the teachings of scriptures.
  • Elected by God’s grace. We believe we have been chosen by God’s grace. However, this election is not primarily for privilege, but rather for service. It leads us to gratitude and assurance in our faith, and is best recognized in retrospect.
  • Saved to share the good news with the world around us. Mission have always been a strong emphasis of our denomination.
  • Bible centered. The scriptures of the Old and New Testament are our only authoritative guide for faith and life.
  • Yielded to God for God’s work in the world. This means being good stewards of God’s creation. It means working for peace and justice. We seek to change unjust social structures where they exist.
  • Thinkers of our faith. We believe that God has given us minds to use for his service. We believe that the life of the mind is a service to God. Therefore, we study our faith in order to love God with our mind, as well as our heart and soul.
  • Encouraged by what we believe God can do. Presbyterians rely on the belief that, with God, all things are possible. We pray for and work for the kingdom of God in the world, knowing that all good things ultimately come from God.
  • Relying on God’s grace by faith for our salvation. It is not our works, nor our righteousness that saves us. Our salvation is by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. No matter how much good we do, we are always sinners saved by grace.
  • Inspired to worship God in all we do. Worship is our #1 priority. Our primary reason for existence is to “glorify God and enjoy him forever”. We make personal prayer a priority and regularly gather to worship with God’s people.
  • Attached to one another by bonds of love. Every person matters to God. Every person’s gift is needed in the church. Everyone is of value and worth in God’s sight. We believe that the church is built up by the exercise of God’s peoples’ spiritual gifts therefore we encourage everyone to find a place to serve.
  • Never afraid to adjust our organizational practices in order to share the gospel more effectively. We are slow to change our theology, but quick to change our practices when it helps us take the unchanging gospel into a rapidly changing world.

    PRESBYTERIANS PRINCIPLES

    Presbyterians believe in a sovereign God.
    The Presbyterian Church has a strong view of the majesty, power, and omnipotence of God. This informs many things we do. Our worship is reverent and seeks to focus our hearts and minds on God. We believe God works in peoples’ hearts in God’s own timing and therefore we do not try to orchestrate the when’s and how’s of people’s salvation. The belief in a sovereign God is also foundational to the difficult and often misunderstood doctrine of predestination. Predestination (a much misunderstood concept) states, simply put, that God chooses us first before we ever even think about responding to God. God’s choice and our response complete our salvation.

    Presbyterians are formed and reformed by the Bible.
    Presbyterians believe in the Bible and use it as the unique and authoritative guide for how to live and what to believe. The sermons on Sunday try to explain and interpret the Bible rather than the preacher’s latest ideas. For Presbyterians the Bible is not just to be read by preachers and scholars. We believe that reading the Bible consistently will help us all place ourselves in the grand sweep of God’s work of salvation.

    Presbyterians are a people of community.
    Presbyterians believe that you cannot live the Christian life effectively apart from other people. God has given us the church for our mutual support, correction, and encouragement. We need a relationship with other Christians in order to be all that God intends us to be. This is one of the reasons the Presbyterian Church has a connectional form of church government. Through the Presbyteries, Synods, and the General Assembly each local congregation stays connected to the larger church. It is also one of the reasons we work together in teams for ministry. We need to do the work of Christ with other people. We believe God calls people to be connected with a local congregation and church membership is the way we recognize and celebrate that calling.

    Presbyterians are a people of mission.
    Presbyterians believe that we cannot simply live in our own sheltered world. God has called us to take the gospel to the entire world. God has called us to exhibit the kingdom of Christ to our community. The Presbyterian Church sends missionaries into all corners of the globe, through the regular offerings of local churches. Our denomination has been instrumental in taking the gospel to many other countries in this century. Each local congregation participates in mission activities in its specific community, on a national level, and on a global scale. Presbyterians have always looked outside themselves and their own concerns to work to fulfill Christ’s Great Commission. Today the mission field is also in our own backyard as we seek to share the gospel with the almost 50% of Americans not connected with any local church.

    Presbyterians are a people of the mind.
    Presbyterians believe that the mind is a terrible thing to waste. God has given us our minds as gracious gifts. Our reasoning faculties ought to be trained for the service of God. This is why ministers in the Presbyterian Church are held to the highest academic standards. It is why the training of Elders and Church School teachers is so very important in the Presbyterian church. It is why we encourage everyone to grow in knowledge of the Bible, church history, theology, and an understanding of the spiritual disciplines of the Christian life.

    Presbyterians have two sacraments.
    The Presbyterian Church does not have many ceremonies and rituals. This is because we do not want to distract from the two most important ceremonies Christ left to the church, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. We believe these are the only two ceremonies, which we call sacraments, which Christ instituted for the church throughout the ages. Baptism is administered only once as a sign of our forgiveness from sin and our entrance into the family of God. We administer baptism to infants and children in anticipation of their faith and with the promise of parents to raise them in the “training and instruction of the Lord.” We administer the Sacrament of Baptism to adults upon their public profession of faith. The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is repeated often in the Presbyterian Church. Our congregation typically celebrates it on the first Sunday of the month as well as at certain special church worship services. This ceremony reminds us, over and over, that we need the spiritual nourishment Christ brings to us and that Christ, our living Savior, is present with us, now and in the future.

    This material is adapted and shared courtesy of Central Presbyterian Church, Athens, Georgia

 

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Mt Zion Presbyterian Church Future Story

A church that remembers its past will remain faithful to their God. There comes a time in the life of any organization when it is essential to remember the past. For the Mt Zion Presbyterian Church (MTZPC) in Mt Zion Illinois, it was the year 1830. In a small one-room log cabin, the home of Reverend David Foster and his wife, the Fosters provided the initial setting for the beginning of Mt Zion Presbyterian’s first place of worship and prayer meetings. The vision of those few worshipers was simple, but at the same time the hope was for the development of a greater church to serve the many wishing for God’s guidance and direction.  Little did they know that through many structures and a fire, their descendants would brave the elements, natural destructions, and remain resilient to a House of God that has served thousands with a place of worship.  Followers would enjoy fellowship, reading and studying the Bible, sewing, cooking, laughing and praying together. This vision, with the help and leadership of God, continues to be a reality in 2019. “BLESS THIS HOUSE O LORD, AND THOSE WHO WORSHIP WITHIN.”

Worship and expect change in both the individual and the church. A sign on the east entry door of MTZPC states, “Enter, be careful, watch your step, but expect to be changed as you leave our church.” Even Christ when carrying the cross on which he knew he would die, received aid and help along the way. On our vision journey, in order to successfully fulfill our spiritual needs, we expect and need God’s help. At no time do we walk alone. God has perfected the desired outcome and guides us to the completion of our journey and the desired end. A church family of healthy members was shaped by many healing hands and hearts who week after week welcomed members and guests with open arms.

It is important to reflect on our past in order to accept the end goal of a flourishing and forgiving church. It is with this example and guidance that during this past Sunday’s worship we welcomed into our church family new members: Mary and Keith Smith, Todd Jones, Cleo McCully, and Will Smith. The baptism of Chloe Elizabeth Miller was also welcomed by the congregation at the 10:00 a.m. service on February 15, 2019.

 

Worship that leads to a closer relationship with God is the goal of MTZPC. Fellowship, friendliness, love and concern can bring about change in an individual. Experiencing God’s love and feeling the existence of his enthusiastic presence can change an individual forever. The worship service, music, and prayer can mold and change lives to the point that when you leave our church, you feel and know that your life has changed.  People worship differently and expect different motivational stimuli from the worship service.

MTZPC provides two worship services each Sunday in order to meet the needs of its members. Sunday school,Bible Study, and LOGOS allows an individual to explore and interpret what meets their personal needs.  A variety of worship services and Bible related experiences are available as MTZPC attempts to offer different opportunities which enable members to establish a closer relationship with God.

 

Fellowship with friends allows a Christian bond to develop between church members.This fellowship leads to a closer intimate relationship with God. Our friendly, loving and supportive members exhibit the characteristics of God and how he expects us to live. MTZPC welcomes all newcomers to a variety of church experiences. Regardless of whether you choose to sing in the choir, play bells, attend a Bible Study, help with LOGOS, become a member of the Women’s Association, or any other activity,your attendance is encouraged and allows newcomers to become an essential part of any group.

 

A church and a community can work as one. MTZPC has always been very active in community life.  Community missions are critical as MTZPC reaches out to support community missions both financially and with hands-on labor. The year 2019 saw a marked effort in helping and being visible in the community with activities such as the ice cream social, children’s Christmas fund,work weekend at Kemmerer Village, and coats for the homeless allowed others to experience the love of Jesus Christ.

 

What is your contribution to the Church and God? Many church members spend countless hours serving their church. Some teach, some work with youth or provide meals to the sick, and others provide maintenance and/or yard work. In the spring of 2019 through the organizational skills of Jim Wolf, the care task team evolved into a community service. A number of residents with home maintenance needs such as leaf raking, yard mowing, windows which needed locks repaired, and gutters which neededto be cleaned had their problems resolved by the work of church members. No charge was levied except a smile, a handshake, and a cup of coffee or a hug. This expression of kindness allowed the church and community to bond and learn to appreciate each other in a loving association with God.

 

Mt Zion Presbyterian Church is more than an hour of worship service on Sunday morning. Our church is utilized most days and evenings of the week ranging from Session and Deacon Meetings, LOGOS, committee meetings, women’s association meetings and also opens its doors to outside groups such as AA and Al anon. A young adult of the church said, “I have attended the MTZPC all of my life, but only when I became totally involved in church activities did I come to appreciate the true purpose of my church and the total love of God.”

 

What about You and Jesus? Does this future story sound like something that belongs to you? Why not let 2019 be the inaugural year that you treat yourself to a total membership and unity with God? Only you can initiate this process!!

 

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Church Year

Spiritual Growth In Our Church Worship

Spiritual Growth In Church Family

Spiritual Growth in the Community and World

 

O

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V

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  1. Expedite the search and call a new pastor
  2. Form essential inception of small group ministries
  3. Consider additional youth ministries
  4. Develop diverse styles of worship services
  5. Regard education as a means of amplifying stewardship
  6. Explore fellowship endeavors as a means of increasing church and Sunday School Attendance
  7. Continue to use the diverse musical talents of our church members to enhance the worship service

 

  1. Develop a rapport with the office of the Presbytery of Southeastern Illinois in order to continue working in religious harmony
  2. Initiate steps to nurture closer collaboration among committees and the congregation
  3. Continue the caring, welcoming, and love expressed towards visitors and church members
  4. Search for systematic arrangements in order to improve two-way communication between the pastor and the congregation
  5. Expand efforts to stay in communication with the church family
  6. Form intergenerational activities on a regular basis

 

  1. Extend an invitation to the community and neighboring churches for fellowship events
  2. Continue to engage in missions throughout the community and the world
  3. Stimulate and increase church membership and attendance
  4. Expand youth ministries and encourage participation in worship
  5. Explore the possibility of partnering with neighboring churches with their mission endeavors

 


Church Year
2017

Spiritual Growth In Our Church Worship

Spiritual Growth In Church Family

Spiritual Growth in the Community and World

 

O

U

R

 

V

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N

 

  1. Complete the Search for and call a new Pastor
  2. Continue to support LOGOS and Youth programs
  3. Support efforts to care for the ill, homebound, and bereaved
  4. Explore fresh and alternative worship styles
  5. Promote young adult small Bible Study Groups
  6. Incorporate a variety of music into the worship
  7. Allow choirs and bells to actively participate in worship
  8. Continue to support the Presbyterian Women’s group in their contribution to missions
  9. Use special music as a way of stimulating congregational appreciation
  10. Encourage coffee hours as an essential fellowship following worship
  11. LOGOS and other youth periodically join the choir

 

 

 

  1. As a high priority item, develop and initiate educational activitiesto equip elders, deacons, and Sunday school teachers to better serve the congregation
  2. Require committees to be accountable and report periodically to the congregation
  3. Continue to invite community children to attend MTZPC vacation Bible School
  4. Use conventional as well as high tech methods of communications to inform church members of church events
  5. Establish Bible Study groups for all ages
  6. Promote intergenerational groupings whenever possible
  7. Encourage church members to serve their church and God
  8. Have a designed agenda for a detailed stewardship campaign

 

 

  1. Remain in support of community mission efforts
  2. Continue church/community fund raisers that support fellowship opportunities
  3. Support missions that aid and assist needs locally and world wide
  4. Continue to encourage youth to attend Camp Carew
  5. Be proud of your past and who you are, a member of Mt Zion Presbyterian Church
  6. Continue to welcome visitors and new members

 


Church Year
2018

Spiritual Growth In Our Church Worship

Spiritual Growth In Church Family

Spiritual Growth in the Community and World

 

O

U

R

 

V

I

S

I

O

N

 

  1. Support and assist the pastor
  2. Include older hymns and upbeat music in the worship service
  3. Study and explore the possibility of Saturday and other worship  service times
  4. Provide classes , instruction, and mentor new members
  5. Consider Children’s church during regular worship  services
  6. Continue worship In the park and

implement community Easter sunrise services

 

 

  1. Never be willing to accept status quo
  2. Reach out and meet needs of young adults and youth
  3. Embrace change and new technology
  4. Provide rides for individuals with needs
  5. Explore the possibility of prospective members
  6. Establish 2 or 3 intergenerational events each year
  7. Continue to inform congregation in regards  to ways to serve God in all Church activities
  8. Embody the use of potlucks or lunches for fellowship
  9. Schedule 1 or 2 retreats for each age group
  10. Promote participation of youth summits
  11. Continue Fall Wiener Roast outing-Farrell’s
  12. Schedule 2 or 3 service projects each year
  13. Upon request, tape or video worship services, including special music for the homebound.
  14.  If requested, take communion tothe homebound

 

  1. Implement tutoring programs for youth
  2. Promote community visibility
  3. Invite outsiders to church
  4. Continue the Turkey Dinner
  5. Provide leadership and support of Children’s Christmas
  6. Celebrate a safe Halloween with Trunk or Treat

 

 


Church Year
2019

Spiritual Growth In Our Church Worship

Spiritual Growth In Church Family

Spiritual Growth in the Community and World

 

O

U

R

 

V

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  1. Investigate ways to enhance worship services through new technologies
  2. Support Pastor
  3. Constantly evaluate music and its presentation in the worship service
  4. Add an alternative service to meet the wants and needs of the congregation.

 

 

  1. Explore holding 2 or 3 combined elder deacon meetings each year
  2. Increase the amount given in special offerings by 10%
  3. Evaluate and adjust youth programs
  4. Increase more opportunities for Bible studies outside of church
  5. Organize retreats for adults away from church
  6. Schedule 2 potlucks each year
  7. Seek additional small groups for adults
  8. Increase technology as a means of communication
  9. Continually seek new members to serve God
  10. Provide services for shut-ins by providing video or taped worship services and communion if requested

 

  1. Evaluate making gift bags for visitors and new members
  2. Commit to 2 or 3 service projects in the community
  3. Continue support of Camp Carew
  4. Involve youth in church missions
  5. Organize 2 or 3 adult mission trips
  6. Schedule Gospel or other singing groups and invite the community
  7. Continue Support of fellowship events within church and community